Thursday, November 03, 2011


So, there's no real reason for this post other than my wife got me an i-pod and dragged me kicking and screaming into the present century. Searching about for songs to fill my i-pod, I came up with a playlist entitled "Kick ass and March". Here are a few of the strange variety of tunes on that list that'll make you want to kick ass and/or march.

12. Long-Haired Redneck. A bizarre choice for most people, no doubt. David Alan Coe could be filthy and offensive or he could write beautiful lyrics, probably dependent on the amount of whiskey consumed. This one is a favorite of mine from my beer-swilling rough and rowdy days which, thank God, are now long gone. Still, it reminds me of a few places I’ve been:

“Country DJs knows that I’m an outlaw

And they’d never come to see me in this dive

Where bikers stare at cowboys

Who are laughing at the hippies

Who are prayin’ they’ll get out of here alive.”

This song just makes me want to confront some obnoxious bastard and “knock him off his chair”.

11. Big Iron. Marty Robbins. Like watching a classic old Western, with the silent, gallant Ranger facing down the notorious gun-fighter Texas Red on the dusty Mainstreet of the town of Auga Fria. Back when the good guys wore white hats and triumphed over the bad guys in the end. Not the reason I carry a “Big Iron” on my hip, but it makes me feel really good about it.

Too bad we can no longer settle things with pistols on Mainstreet or challenge dishonorable men (such as both Houses of Congress) to duels. As Robert Heinlein once noted, “An armed society is a polite society.”

Twenty men had hated this song, twenty men had made a slip. Twenty one will be the poster who gives this choice some lip.

10. The Ballad of the Alamo. Marty Robbins again. A stirring ballad of the Texians at the Battle of the Alamo, back when it was acceptable to be patriotic and speak English in the Southwest, and part of the reason the former Republic of Texas can (and probably should in this day and age) secede from the Union. In one of the world's greatest last stands, 185 poorly-equipped American rebels such as Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Colonel William Travis. holed up in an old mission near San Antonio, TX and successfully held off 5,000 Mexicans (they only had three cars) under General Santa Anna from February 23rd to March 6th of 1836 before finally being overwhelmed.

9. Garry Owen: Originally an Irish drinking song adopted, appropriately, by the United States 7th Cavalry, General George Armstrong “Oh shit!” Custer’s old unit. Also an official Regimental March for some British and Canadian units long before Custer, but most commonly associated with the Cav here in the ‘States.

Heard in numerous good ol’ Westerns like They Died With Their Boots On, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Fort Apache. More recently used in Son of the Morning Star and John Milius’ The Rough Riders. Makes you want to grab your .45-70 Springfield and saddle up.

8. Ballad of the Green Berets. Tribute to the U.S. Army Special Forces in the Vietnam War. Singer/songwriter Barry Sadler had been there, done that, got the T-shirt. In his later writing career some of his “tools of the trade” supposedly included a cocked and locked Colt 1911A1 and a bottle of Jack Daniels on his writing desk.

7. Great Escape March. Composed by Elmer Bernstein. The movie, based on the true story, of Allied airmen escaping from the toughest POW camp in all of Germany (no, it was not Stalag 13). Manliness quotient? Steve McQueen and James Garner. ‘Nuff said.

6. Marine Corps Hymn. Manly? It’s the U.S. Marines! You know, the guys at Belleau Wood, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Chosin, Khe Sahn, Fallujah. Every Marine is still a rifleman first. Quote attributed to a Marine aviator in Korea, “I’m a rifleman, but they’ve got me flying a jet right now.”

5. Scotland the Brave: Ah, the pipes and the Scots. You have to be manly to wear a kilt. There’s a good reason why the Germans called them the “Ladies From Hell” during the First World War. This is one march that makes you want to by-God march.

There’s a good version of the Canadian Contingent marching to the pipes the movie The Devil’s Brigade, the story of the joint American-Canadian 1st Special Service Force of WWII, fore-runner of the Special Forces. Marching at the head of the Canadians is Cliff Robertson as Major Alan Crown. In real life, Robertson weathered the torpedoes and U-Boats as a merchant mariner in WWII, has long held a private pilot’s license, and owns and Messerschmitt and a Spitfire. Manly.

4. Men of Harlech: Welsh, commemorating the 7-year siege of Harlech Castle in 1461. Used as an official march for units such as the Royal Welsh Regiment, Royal Canadian Hussars, and Aussie Royal Victorian Regiment.

The song is most commonly associated with the movie Zulu, one of the greatest war movies of all times, although they changed the lyrics some. Zulu commemorates the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, January 1879, where 150 men of the 2nd Warwickshire Regiment of Foot fought off some 3,000-4,000 Zulu warriors with their single-shot Martini-Henry rifles (and bayonets). Best character: Neil McCarthy as the unflappable mutton-chop wearing Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne. “Steady, lads.”

3. Flight of the Valkryies. Classical music from an opera, yes an opera, composed by Richard Wagner. Few people can hear it now without thinking of helicopters, again associated with a movie, Apocalypse Now. The best part of the whole weird, incoherent movie is the Air Cav Hueys attacking the VC village with rockets and gunships.

Ah, Robert Duvall in a blue cavalry Stetson and yellow ascot, and the two best lines in the movie. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” and “If I say it’s safe to surf the beach, it’s safe to surf the beach.” Robert Duvall by himself is pretty manly; (like Eastwood, he was in the Army during the Korean War but did not see action). Best manly movie roles include outlaw “Lucky” Ned Pepper (True Grit), LTC Bull Meechum (The Great Santini), Gus McRae (Lonesome Dove), Boss Spearman (Open Range) and, manliest of all, General Robert E. Lee in Gods & Generals. My all-time favorite Duvall movie ever? Secondhand Lions. Watch it and you’ll see why.

Duvall's Apocalypse co-star Martin Sheen also tried to play Robert E. Lee but couldn't pull it off because he's a Leftist pussy.

2. Onward, Christian Soldiers. Now most likely now considered militant, politically incorrect, and islamo-phobic. This bacon-eating infidel will probably be on yet another “domestic terrorist” watch list for even mentioning it.

Sir Winston Churchill chose the hymn for a service when he met with President Franklin Roosevelt on the HMS Price of Wales to hash out the Atlantic Charter.

We sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers" indeed, and I felt that this was no vain presumption, but that we had the right to feel that we serving a cause for the sake of which a trumpet has sounded from on high. When I looked upon that densely packed congregation of fighting men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental laws, of the same ideals ... it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation.

1. America, Why I love Her: John Wayne. No, the Duke doesn’t sing, but speaks the lyrics in his famous gruff, gravelly voice with background music. Don’t worry, it’s nothing like Shatner’s “dramatic readings”. Once again from a long-gone age when patriotism was still in style, and one had reason to be proud of the country before it slid completely into a Socialist Nanny/Police State. This one will make you feel proud of what we once were.

There they are, boys. Now's your turn to tell me why your choices are better and why mine suck.

Don't make me knock you off your chair.


Anonymous said...

I have an interesting story about the Battle Hymn of the Republic, of course written in tribute to Union troops in the American Civil War. As to be expected from a song produced during America's bloodiest conflict, the text of the song is quite violent and martial. In the 20th century, one of the verses was often altered to reflect a more hopeful and positive view: "As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free."

The Battle Hymn was sung in the National Cathedral at the 9/11 memorial service. In that instance, the original 19th century lyrics were used, "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free."

At the time, I thought it was interesting and perhaps a portent. Of course, I would not have imagined that 10 years later, we would still be seeing men (and women) dying in Iraq and Afghanistan with the goal of freedom still far from being achieved.

Jerry said...

Love the Robert E. Lee comparisons.

Anonymous said...

Flight of the Valkyries has also been used to great comic effect in the epic chase scene in the Blues Brothers and in the scene in Big Bang Theory where the nerds are driving to San Diego to try to reclaim some virtual World of Warcraft stuff that a hacker stole from Sheldon.

Bawb said...

Now I'm kind of kicking myself for not including the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I have the Tennessee Ernie Ford version and it's a powerful one.

And how could I have forgotten the Blues Brothers and the Pinto station wagon full of Illinois Nazis plummeting straight down from the world's tallest overpass.

I usually watch the nerds but I guess I missed that particular episode you mentioned.